The Appearance of the Sgt Pepper’s album

“Sgt Pepper isn’t in the line of continuous development; rather, it is an eruption.  It is an astounding accomplishment for which no one could have been wholly prepared, and it therefore substantially enlarges and modifies all the work that proceeded it.  It sends us back to the earlier Beatles not for confirmation of the fact that they have always been the best group of their kind.  Rather, we listen for those gestations of genius that have now come to fruition.”   Richard Poirer, “Learning from the Beatles” in The Beatles Book

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George Harrison Emerges as a Songwriter

“After the Beatles broke up, George Martin said on more than one occasion that he regretted not having devoted more attention to George Harrison as a songwriter.  Martin’s favoritism toward Lennon and McCartney was understandable, given the quality and quantity of their output, but as a result, said Martin, ‘George, poor George, didn’t get much of a look until later on.’  Martin did not offer specifics, but ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ the opening track on side two of Abbey Road, may well have been one of the comparisons that showed him the error of his ways.  ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ Martin later said separately, ‘in some ways is one of the best songs ever written.'”

Mark Hertsgaard, A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles

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The Day John Met Paul (July 6, 1957)

“Lennon departs from the church hall with his temples throbbing.  He has something on his mind.  The quick brain is racing.  What’s haunting him is the afterimage of the dark-haired teenager in the white jacket.  He still can’t get over the kid–or his rock ‘n’ roll.  It has been a long day of music for the sixteen year-old.  But it’s never too late in the day for him to think about rock ‘n’ roll.  He senses there is much fine music in this McCartney fellow–young as he looks.  He conceives of McCartney’s musical self as a lion in a cage that’s not nearly strong enough to hold it.

Whether Lennon likes it or not, he knows that the two of them are bookends: there are volumes of rock ‘n’ roll feelings between them.  That had been something he felt in his bones before McCartney had even been playing a full minute.  Already sure that Elvis is his rock ‘n’ roll father, he muses over whether he has now met his rock ‘n’ roll brother, his first rock ‘n’ roll brother.”

Jim O’Donnell, from The Day John Met Paul

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Ian Macdonald on the 60s and the Fab Four

“So obviously dazzling was the Beatles’ achievement that few have questioned it.  Agreement on them is all but universal: they were far and away the best-ever pop group and their music enriched the lives of millions.  Yet while the Beatles have passed into the pantheon of permanent regard, the Sixties, with which they were intimately linked, are now an ideological battleground upon which there is no agreement at all.”  Ian MacDonald, Revolution in the Head

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Sinatra and the Beatles

On July 2, 1966 Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” bumped the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” from the number one spot on the Billboard chart.  This is amazing to me.  Not that I have anything against Sinatra, but simply the fact that two songs from such vastly different worlds could be in competition on a pop music chart.

Another fun Sinatra fact is that he loved George Harrison’s “Something”, calling it one of the best love songs of the 20th century. Then he ruined everything by attributing it to Lennon/McCartney!

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Baroque Piano in John’s “In My Life”

“Lennon’s ‘In My Life’ evokes the passivity of a restrained folk ballad, eschewing both the blues-derived qualities of the typical pop-rock song and the harmonic suavity and sophistication associated with the slicker commercial ballads.  Its generally subdued use of percussion and moderate tempo combine with a then unique section of pseudo-Baroque counterpoint (played by George Martin on piano) and introspective lyrics to evade categorization in the conventional pop genres of the day.”

Terence J. O’Grady in The Beatles Reader

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